Saturday, May 09, 2009
Just to get this straight, the Mariners on Tuesday faced Vicente Padilla, who had a 7.43 ERA coming into the game, then the next day they faced Sidney Ponson, he of the 7.16 ERA. In this game (two nights after facing Ponson), they faced Scott Baker, whose ERA was a mere 9.15 coming into the game. Can anyone venture to guess how many runs the Mariners scored against this formidable trio of arms? Anyone? The total is two runs, with only one of those being earned. Padilla gave up the unearned run in eight innings, Ponson gave up the one run over 7 1/3 innings, and Baker threw seven shutout innings. That's a combined 22 1/3 innings where the Mariners scored two runs (one earned). ERAs are bad when small sample size is used, but the numbers I just gave you would make for an 0.40 combined ERA out of those pitchers collectively against the Mariners.
Mariner hitting went a collective 5-for-32 for the game, striking out seven times and walking zero times. They were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position, which means they had five at-bats with runners in scoring position. If you were watching or even partially watching the game, it's amazing they even had runners in scoring position for five at-bats. The Mariners amassed all of five hits obtained by Ichiro, Endy Chavez, Adrian Beltre, Kenji Johjima, and Yuniesky Betancourt. All other Mariner hitters were hitless, thus making me hesitant to use the word "hitters" to describe them. The Mariners also went without an extra-base hit.
Two out of the four Mariner pitchers will be described below. Meanwhile, it was a good day for Miguel Batista to get in some work, and he poured fuel on the fire, scoring two of Jakubauskas' runners in 1 1/3 innings. He gave up three hits (a three-run Buscher homer) and walked two, facing nine hitters to get four outs. Mark Lowe threw a scoreless one-hit eighth inning.
Oh, the pace paragraph. The 15-15 mark at 30 games is better than every Bavasi team except for the 2007 team, where the records match. It's two wins better than last season and three better than all of 2004-2006. The record is worse than every Gillick team. It's two worse than 2000, four worse than 2003, six worse than 2002, and eight worse than 2001.
On a light-hitting day for everyone, the sliding catch in rightfield put Ichiro over the top. The Mariners' leadoff hitter went 1-for-4. The double on Thursday night spiked his slugging percentage up a bit, and it's now at .414, while .346 is his on-base percentage. Ichiro is hitting .313, and .324 so far for the month of May. He has gone hitless in only one game out of eight this month. Another fun fact about Ichiro: despite missing eight games to start the season, Ichiro has hit two more home runs than Adrian Beltre. This of course means Ichiro has two homers on the season. Ichiro has drawn five walks on the season and struck out nine times. After missing the first eight games of the season, he has piled up 31 hits. Extrapolated over a 154-game season (since eight games of zero really weighs it down), Ichiro is on pace for a 217-hit season. At this pace, however, I'm not sure if the other eight hitters in the lineup will combine for 217 hits. I guess what's really a shame is that the Mariners have had the best leadoff hitter in the Majors since Ichiro came aboard, and they've been complete crap for four of the eight years he's been here.
2) Endy Chavez
He was 1-for-4, stole a base, and I thought he made a decent throw home on a play where a runner scored. He hit .305 in April, but is having a .167 month of May. He's at .280 on the season. He has drawn 11 walks on the season and struck out 14 times. He has gone hitless four times this month, but two of those games where pinch-running appearances late in games since Wladimir Balentien is drawing into the lineup a bit more frequently. Chavez is 6-for-7 on steal attempts. Again, it should be noted that the Mariners were 6-2 without Ichiro, and I'm pretty sure Chavez was the leadoff hitter in all of those games. There have been some people suggesting Ichiro get moved down in the lineup just to shake things up, but I'm not sure we go that far yet. The good thing about that is the Mariners have the luxury of having two guys capable of hitting leadoff. I guess whether or not Don Wakamatsu does it depends on the level of desperation. In the dugout, they probably still feel they haven't completely lost grip of the situation.
3) Jason Vargas
Two appearances and it's full marks for one of the guys that came back in the JJ Putz trade. Though he picked up a win in the extra-inning game against Oakland (and is therefore the answer to the trivia question "who is the last Mariner pitcher to record a win?"), it was going to be a tall task for the offense to score 12 runs and win the game for Vargas this time around. In this game, Vargas stranded the two runners given to him by Batista. He faced six hitters to get four outs, giving up a hit. Based on how Jakubauskas is doing, I think you might have to look at this guy if you want someone else to put into the fifth spot in the rotation, and I happen to think it might be time for just that. If his two Mariner outings are completely representative of what Vargas will give you, then the Mariner rotation should be one-fifth Vargasian, I say. Or the Mariners could suck horribly except for Bedard and Washburn, then the Mariners could trade them away for a bunch of awesome starting pitching prospects, and everyone will be fine and merry. Until we realize starting pitchers can't hit and the Mariners still don't have hitters. I'd ask what the over-under is on a Mike Carp call-up if he wasn't playing first base.
Okay, I think Jakubauskas has a nice story, and he's been good to great in two of his five starts, but the other three have been pretty atrocious. If Ryan Rowland-Smith isn't coming back anytime soon (I haven't heard rumblings, anyway), I think it's time to send this guy back to the bullpen so his confidence (though I know he's not young) doesn't get completely shattered. In two starts this month, he's given up four homers in 8 2/3 innings of work, and his May ERA is 13.50 (ouch!). The problem for the Mariners isn't necessarily that they don't have a guy anchoring down the fifth spot in the rotation well (not many teams stick with the same fifth starter for the entire year), it's that they don't have a solid fifth starter or third (Silva) starter. I won't quite say you're punting away 40% of the rotation, but it's at least once every time through. It's hard to mount long winning streaks with Silva sucking every turn through the rotation, and it's even harder if Jakubauskas is doing on-the-job training if the fifth spot in the rotation. If two spots in the rotation suck, you can still play .600 ball if Felix Hernandez, Erik Bedard, and Jarrod Washburn go undefeated. The only problem with that theory is that those three won't go undefeated. Reeks like a .500 or worse team to me, though honestly I always thought it'd end up that way.
If ever there was a good day for a Felix Day, this is it.